Say What You Will
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: June 3rd 2014
John Green's The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern's insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
Say What You Will is a moving story about two people facing incredible challenges that fall in love and find hope in each other. It’s sweet and wonderful, but also sad and frustrating at times. 3rd person is always hard for me to connect to characters in a book, and this is where my inability to love this one stems from. I also found it a tad long which is probably related to the latter. But it’s a book I’m glad I read; the raw honesty of these people’s harsh lives ended up being both eye opening and inspiring.
Told in dual POV, we have Amy who has cerebral palsy, she needs the help of a walker to get around, and she can only speak using a computerized voice box. She’s also extremely intelligent and highly aware of how people see her, not to mention very lonely. I found her characters highly compelling. I enjoyed how brutally honest she was with herself, and how she was bold enough to try and connect with people who simply did not get her. Not everyone would have her high spirits in her situation, and especially not her guts. She even had an amusing sense of humour that made me chuckle with regularity. Then we have Matthew who I didn’t click with as much as I did her. I found him a bit frustrating, to be honest, even offensive at times. It’s like he didn’t even want to try and kept living in the past. I did find it interesting to look into the perspective of someone with OCD, but I simply didn’t find him to be a very likeable character. He does go through a great deal of character growth by the end, however, which helped.
Together is where they shine. They help each other overcome their fears and end up connecting in a way neither of them expected. This made for a sweet romance that is both cute and believable. I appreciated the true depiction of a first-love romance. It’s filled with anxiety, confusion and insecurities, but also with excitement, anticipation, and forgiveness. There’s a twist in the story that’s heartbreaking, but gives the book that much more depth. I liked how realistically and delicately that was handled, as well.
If only the book wasn’t written in 3rd person, I would have felt much closer to the characters. As it lay, I was kept at a distance due to the narrative choice. My emotional attachment was not as strong as it could have been. I understood that it was a beautiful, heartbreaking journey, I understood the importance in the book’s message, but I didn’t exactly feel it, if you know what I mean. Similarly, the characters’ personalities were not as well defined as they could have been – especially the supporting cast – and I didn’t feel I got to really know them. Still, the power of this novel lays in its message of being the absolute best you can be, no matter how people see you, and no matter the hand life dealt you. Also, be kind to those who look different on the outside, because on the inside they’re just the same as you!